The Stratford Festival has put its entire 2020 season on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, the festival had cancelled performances through the end of May. But festival organizers now say there is no way of safely resuming performances given the high number of audience members and performers who come into contact with one another during a typical season.
“Sadly, we have to come to terms with the fact that, as it relies on large public gatherings, theatre will be one of the last sectors to recover from this pandemic,” said artistic director Antoni Cimolino in a news release.
The festival’s four theatres each have a capacity of between 260 and 1,800 seats. The theatre company itself has 150 actors who typically act in two or three productions at the same time, resulting in an “extremely high risk of contagion,” the news release said.
According to the news release, approximately $135 million of economic activity in the Stratford region is driven by the theatre festival.
Officials say they may stage special fall and holiday productions if it becomes safe to do so.